November 26, 2005

Hunters, anglers, and conservation-2

Roseann Hanson comments on my previous post, "We haven't been members of the BINGOs (Big International NGOs) for years. Though we still get the mailings with the sandhill crane on them . . . which go right to the bin."

Driving to town this afternoon (hardware store--plumbing emergency), I was thinking that maybe my last post was too hard on the Sierra Clubs, etc. They do good work. But the one thing about them is that they don't "get" wildlife issues, unless said wildlife can be linked to a "landform" issue.

I had the same battles back when I occasionally wrote for High Country News in the late 1980s. Then-editor Betsy Marston loved Old West/New West stories, etc., but her eyes always seemed to glaze over when I proposed a wildlife story unless it involved the Endangered Species Act and politicians.

I'm thinking of one that I wanted to do on the wildlife refuge at Great Salt Lake--the areas described in Terry Tempest Williams' book Refuge--only a few years after the flooding that Williams writes about. By 1990, the high waters were receding and the birds were coming back. It was published, but in a fairly short version.

Another formative experience occurred in the 1980s when I was on the program committee of the Pike's Peak Group of the Sierra Club.

In my youthful naivete, I thought, "These people are outdoors a lot. We could educate them about poaching and how to spot and report poachers." So I arranged for a speaker from the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

BIg mistake. Blank looks from the audience. The DOW guy was just suffering at the podium.

I began to realize that for my fellow Sierra Clubbers, the mountains were scenic and uplifting and a great place for recreation, but they were not plugged into critters. They didn't know which person with a gun was a legitimate hunter and which was a poacher, and they didn't care to know, since the whole topic made them uncomfortable. (On a national level, the Sierra Club remains fairly neutral on hunting.)

M. contributes to the Natural Resources Defense Council, which does good work, but I saw something indicative in their latest "Nature's Voice" newsletter. It was an article about the "fight for Spirit Bear's rainforest home." What's really going on is a tussle with the provincial government in British Columbia over sustainable logging and old-growth protection. But it's headlined as being about the "Spirit Bear," an unusual white-colored black bear that supposedly lives only there. Talk about your "charismatic megafauna."

It's a land-use issue, and a legitimate one, but they drag in this unusual bear to put a face on that, not because they really have any relationship with bears.

Again, in NRDC's defense, I support their effort to protect whales and dolphins from powerful sonar blasts. When it comes to marine mammals, the hunters, alas, are not the conservationists in most situations.

1 comment:

prairie mary said...

This blog is a comfort to me. I recently ran aground with Betsy Marston because she believes that bison are docile animals and it is unsporting to shoot any animal that just stands there. I could not persuade her that a running animal is NOT a good target, risking inaccuracy, and also that butt shots are NOT a good idea if you expect to eat the meat. She just got paralyzed and shut me out.

She referred me to some model articles, which I found were all about sitting around a table with the heads of organizations, arguing over statistics and regulations. It is a class of people who do not relate to anything but each other, evidently.

Prairie Mary